Scoop or chocolate? Which Windows 10 package manager should you use?

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Over the past two weeks, we’ve released walkthrough guides for two of the most important third-party package managers for Windows 10: Scoop and Chocolatey.

At this point, you might be wondering why you should choose one over the other. Basically, both have similar functionality and ultimately allow you to automate software installations on Windows PCs. That said, Scoop and Chocolatey have different implementation models that make them each better suited to particular specialties.

Read on as we compare the two, so you can assess which is best for you. If you are new to package managers, we recommend that you read our previous articles first, to see how these tools work in practice.

As a reminder, both Scoop and Chocolatey allow you to install Windows programs from the command line, using a single command. They avoid having to manually visit download sites and click on graphical installers. Package managers also make it easier to find and download updates, so you can be sure you’re running the latest versions of your apps.

Compare Chocolatey and Scoop

At first glance, Chocolatey and Scoop are two similar tools. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find several small but collectively significant differences. Of these, the most important to note is their different purposes.

Chocolatey describes itself as “automating software management” for Windows. It is able to automatically install more than 20 kinds of Windows packages without manual intervention. Out of the box, it’s configured with support for nearly 7,000 popular programs, including desktop favorites like Google Chrome and VLC Media Player.

Screenshot of using the chocolate package manager

Scoop also installs Windows software with a single command. However, it has a slightly narrower, more focused lens. First and foremost, it’s a developer’s tool for installing system utilities – especially those used on Linux systems, but not found by default on Windows.

According to its creator, Scoop “focuses on open source command line development tools.” Scoop can install typical Windows desktop programs, such as Chrome and VLC, but you will normally need to manually add an additional repository before doing so.

Scoop

Chocolatey’s extended selection of default packages means this will likely be the best choice for a user who only wants one package manager. Without any additional configuration, you can install hundreds of popular programs. There’s even a graphical interface available if you don’t want to use the terminal.

However, Chocolatey’s broader focus also brings additional complexity. Chocolatey relies on Windows PowerShell and its NuGet package manager system, which primarily aims to resolve software library dependencies. Chocolately also tends to require administrator privileges to run, which means you’ll be interrupted by UAC pop-ups.

In contrast, Scoop does not use NuGet and refrains from installing programs globally. Instead, the apps are limited to your user account and are installed in a special directory to avoid path pollution. Scoop even distances itself from being seen as a package manager, because it “only reads manifests that describe how to install a program and its dependencies.”

So what is right for you?

As always with a comparison of two similar tools, “it depends”.

If you want a quick and easy way to install familiar Windows programs, Chocolatey is probably for you. Its large, community-run package repository means you’ll find that almost all popular Windows programs are available without additional configuration.

Screenshot of using the chocolate package manager

However, if you want to extend programs to a user account, don’t have administrator access, or are primarily looking for developer tools, Scoop should probably be your preference. It’s technically simpler, less impacting your system’s directory structure, and lighter than Chocolatey. Support for popular Windows desktop programs is easily added through the scoop-extras deposit.

Naturally, Chocolatey and Scoop also have a lot of additional features, pros and cons that we haven’t covered here. In particular, Chocolatey has a number of specialized capabilities aimed at businesses, making it a better choice for businesses and system administrators. Meanwhile, Scoop’s simplified “package” model means it’s pretty trivial for app developers to add support – a single file in a Git repository will allow installation through Scoop.

Ultimately, the best option depends on your individual priorities. For most Windows users, we think Chocolatey offers the best balance of convenience and power, while Scoop offers a more streamlined yet developer-centric experience for those who aren’t happy with Chocolatey’s limitations.

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